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Franken and Klobuchar seek cover on military pension flap

Posted by: under Funding, Minnesota U.S. senators Updated: December 18, 2013 - 6:13 PM

Critics of the bipartisan budget accord in Congress have seized on a provision slightly trimming the cost-of-living increases of military pensions for those who retire young. While some call it a necessary reform, the measure has become fodder in recent days for Tea Party opponents of the deal, who say it’s unpatriotic.

Although the House already passed the budget deal with overwhelming bipartisan support, the late-breaking pension uproar has prompted a group of senators, including Minnesota Democrats Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, to seek cover.

So on Wednesday, ahead of an expected Senate vote to pass a budget and avoid another government shutdown, Franken announced that he and Klobuchar were joining more than a dozen of their colleagues in introducing the Military Retirement Restoration Act to replace the cuts to military pensions by closing corporate loopholes.

“There are ways to reduce the deficit by making commonsense reductions to defense spending, but cutting military pensions isn’t one of them,” Franken said in a statement. 

The main loophole in question allows companies managed and controlled in the United States to incorporate overseas in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes on their foreign income. Closing it would raise about $6.6 billion over ten years, more than covering the restored pension benefits.

But Republican interest in this measure is roughly estimated at negligible to zero, meaning that there was little chance Wednesday that it would become law.

The GOP had already tried an alternative Tuesday that would offset the military pension cut by curbing an IRS credit used by illegal immigrants. Democrats beat that idea back, saying it was really intended to kill the budget deal.

But now, for the record, will be more than a dozen senators standing up for veterans, including those who retire in their late 30s and move on to second careers.

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